Last year, Beardy Paul and I entered our first competition – the World Bank Masters at Farmoor, organised by Ian Barr. Whilst the competition, venue and camaraderie were all excellent, we both left feeling that competition fishing was not for us. However, you can’t deny your competitive instincts, even though fishing for us is generally a relaxing hobby, so we duly sent in our entry for the 2018 comp.
Neither of us had managed much early season reservoir fishing so we decided to fish the Saturday at Farmoor on F2, ready for the pairs competition on F1 the following day. To cut a long story short, it was not much of a practice day – we caught 1 each after trying almost every different line and fly we had. A chat with the ranger afterwards lifted our spirits though as the recent stocking meant that F1 was fishing much better. We spent Saturday night over a few beers agreeing tactics and got up at the crack of dawn, ready for a hectic days competition fishing.
The competition is run on a catch and release basis on 10 different pegs set-out around the reservoir, 5 in the morning and five in the afternoon. The first fish caught on each peg earns two points with each subsequent fish earning 1 point up to a maximum of five fish per peg. The day started off cold but the forecast was for some sun and higher temperatures later on. After feeling short with just one rod last year, we had decided to take two rods each, set-up with a sinking line and a floating line to cover different depths. We knew from last year and the recent stocking that black and green lures and blobs were likely to do well with buzzers an option as the water warmed.
I started with the sinking line with a black and green minkie on point and a jelly blob on the dropper. As the hooter got the competition underway a wave of anglers lining the bank got to work. I started methodically, counting down the sinking line in ten second intervals and mixing up the retrieve to try to get the right depth. I had a little bite after a 30 second sink but the hooter sounded in no time for the end of the first peg – fishless! It was the same on the second peg but few anglers around me were catching either. I picked up my first fish on the third peg to the blob and then missed another shortly after but the fourth peg was a blank. On the final peg of the morning we moved round so we were fishing into the wind. With the day warming up I decided to try with the floating line and buzzers as I’ve previously experienced the fish being much higher in the water when the wind is in your face. On my first three casts I had three fish…..and lost them all! I finally got one into the net just before the hooter sounded an end to the morning session. So, only two fish, but I didn’t feel too bad as the most I’d seen around me was three.
I caught up with Beardy Paul at lunchtime and discovered he’d also managed two. He’d been next to a few of the pros who’d caught loads, seemingly on black snakes and with enormous casts.
I decided to stick with my two set-ups for the afternoon as I had caught on both. The afternoon was manic as the fish seemed higher up in the water and on the feed. The next few hours passed in a whirlwind of casting, retrieving, bites, lost fish and, thankfully, lots of fish netted. I caught a few more on buzzers and then concentrated on the lures with the black and green getting me another fish and the blob excelling with four – using a mixture of short, sharp retrieves and long, slow draws. Seven in the afternoon made nine in total which I was happy with and was a big improvement on last years five. Beardy Paul had done even better, catching twelve in the afternoon with five on one peg. He had switched to the dark side and used a snake! It had been a frantic afternoon and we were both knackered but content.
Waiting for the winners announcement we were pretty happy with our day. We knew we wouldn’t be close to the top but 23 fish overall seemed pretty good….but only good enough to get us into 16th position out of 25! The top pair caught an amazing 54 fish between them! It certainly seemed that the extra distance these guys were getting, combined with using snakes had been the successful approach.
The World Bank Master’s is an excellent competition – its well run, at a great venue and its good fun chatting with fellow anglers on the way round. This type of fishing would still not be my first choice for a day out but its exciting and I’ve learnt a lot about early season lure fishing that I would probably not have done otherwise.
All in all, we enjoyed our second year a lot more; maybe because we knew what to expect, maybe because we had some tactics we were comfortable with or maybe just because we caught more fish. Either way, we agreed we’d be back next year.